We are all aware of the role that magazines, television, and just generally the gorgeousness of celebrities, can play on our body image.
There was even a flurry of documentaries in the early 00s about how unattainable ‘crazed celebrity diets’ were for us average humans, and how looking as good as Beyonce was purely unachievable. Now, as much as we all “have as many hours in the day” as Queen B, we are also very aware that we don’t have her bank balance (or her personal trainer, or even her taste for cayenne pepper and lemon juice), so there has always been a degree of separation between us and them. A degree that helped our minds bridge the gap between how amazing B looks in a bodycon, and how …um…not-quite-so amazing we do.
But the world is changing, and the word ‘media’ is growing. Suddenly, the bangin’ bods and enviable lives in front of us are none other than our mates. (Beyonce is still there too though).
Instagram is full of sunset selfies, kitchen triumphs and #nofilters (yes, I know I’m guilty), Facebook is a constant slur of status updates about how freakin’ happy everyone is and don’t even get me started on Twitter.
Everyday becomes the same. We log on, we spend a lot longer than we should comparing our instant coffee and overcooked scrambled eggs to the green smoothie’d marvels on social media, before berating ourselves for not being as awesome/dedicated/beautiful/successful/smart (insert anything you like here) as our friends.
That’s right, our friends.
Those incredible humans who manage to have multiple jobs whilst also running a charity and honing the perfect vintage clothing collection. Or the ones who are real life lawyers, who not only spend their time kicking butt on the career ladder, but also kicking actual butt as they motivate themselves to bootcamps in the wee (we are talking very wee) hours of each morning. Or the ones who have the strength to walk out of a dead end job they hate, and actually live out the Tumblr affirmations and “follow your dreams” all whilst marrying the love of their life!
(Yup, I have some insanely incredible friends.)
Luckily, when you sit down over a glass of red and have a good chin wag with those real life lawyers or dream followers, they will also tell you about their cranky bosses or the organisational hell of planning a wedding. It used to be, that if we were’t close enough to neck a bottle of vino with someone, we lost touch. Alas, we now have this veneer of public perfection of each of our one time acquaintances, friends of friends and people we went to school with when we were 7. We are getting all the good bits, but none of the nitty gritty that comes out between friends.
Social media is a carefully edited reality. A reality where the mundane moments spent picking the dry skin off your heels are left on the cutting room floor.
But boy can it be bloody difficult to realise that sometimes. Unfortunately, to preserve our mental health, we have to try.
I’m not calling here for a revolution of people updating their status to “just did a dump” or “ate 28 chocolate chip cookies. think I’m gona hurl”, because nobody really wants to read that. Nor am I suggesting we try to fit in a deep and meaningful with all 365 of your closest followers. But, next time you feel crap when you look at the wonderful lives that not only the rich and famous lead, but those you love most too, maybe take a minute to “social media” yourself.
I may spend precisely 16 hours a day on my butt in front of some sort of screen wishing my life fitted the 4×4 dream of an Instagram square. I may preach on about health and fitness whilst also having a screaming temper tantrum each morning about not wanting to go for a run (literally). I may have bad skin, that no amount of tea tree oil in the freakin’ world can cure. And I may have an obsession with ‘eating right’ that boarders orthorexia… But I also (get ready for my social media spin guys)…
Live in the most vibrant and wonderful city in the world.
(Despite the fact that it takes roughly an hour of sweaty, sweaty Central Line tubing to get anywhere good).
Have incredible friends and family.
(They also live on the other side of the world and stroking the screen whilst skyping is not the same as an actual hug).
Am in love with the most amazing boy.
(Who I once jumped up and down in front of naked and he didn’t look up from his iPad – complete technology obsessive).
So, instead of sharing every boring detail of your day with social media, realise that there is A LOT more behind people than what you see. And (although I’m guessing here), they probably feel just as shit as you sometimes. And maybe your perfect social media life got them there.
Next time you feel the frustration or jealousy that accompanies constant FB refresh, take a second to give yourself a little PR spin.
If you aren’t very good at it, flick me anemail because after working for years at a gossip mag, I’m pretty nifty at photoshopping what seems like an average life into something oh-so amazing.
I can also predict the sex of your baby from the paunch your rock after you ate a big lunch.